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Preservation and expansion of hydropower: technical challenges

Glacial melting is reducing water reserves. In principle, however, it is also creating the conditions for new reservoirs. If the dam walls of 19 Swiss reservoirs were heightened, an additional volume of 700 km3 would also be created. The new capacity would, in particular, enable a redistribution of production activities from summer to winter. The heightening of existing dam walls could also be realised much quicker than the establishment of new reservoirs where glacial melting is taking place.

Costs, prices, water fees and market: economic challenges

Over recent years, electricity producers have suffered from falling income and smaller profits, with some even experiencing significant losses. There is therefore a lack of funds for the renovation of infrastructure. Two challenges are key for hydropower in Switzerland: firstly, the European market, which will determine the future profitability of hydropower and thus also investment opportunities, and, secondly, the growing significance of political, social and legal considerations.

Alluvial landscapes, residual flows, bedload: environmental challenges

Water catchments, diversions and damming significantly alter the water flow in our waters. In the case of watercourses, the law requires continuous residual flows in order to reduce or even eliminate the negative impact of changed flow volumes in the rivers beneath reservoirs. Constant residual flows without certain dynamics are not sufficient to create a good balance between ecology and electricity production. Other measures are required.

All information provided on these pages corresponds to the status of knowledge as of 11.08.2019. Publication details.